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  • Writer's pictureGreat Companies

Disha Shah, Founder at GrapplerTodd LLP

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Disha Shah: My company is a pandemic baby. I was forced to move away from the city with my 3 little babies to a simple town of South Gujarat - Vapi. With Toy shops closed - I simply couldn’t find the right sort of toys for my babies Samara, Arjun & Ara. My family is into the Textile and Corrugated Paper Business – both under essential services – So I let my imagination run wild and used scraps from both these factories to create toys – not only to play with but also those that will help them in learning basic Pre-Kindergarten concepts. With schools closed I was also responsible to homeschool them and make sure that they are continuously growing. Children have an absorbent mind which peaks at 6 years of age – and they ought to learn most life skills or set the tone of their adult character from the beginning.

When the world started to see my creations – my personal instagram following increased. I had calls daily from friends and family asking me to send those scraps of cloth and paper for their children to play with. Each of those toys that I made became the basis of Prototypes for most SKU’s we have at GrapplerTodd today.

When things started to open up – I first found my Business Partner Himanshu Bhandare – who has a solid Production & logistics to start producing those prototypes on a commercial basis – and I started developing our website and forming Sales channels for our products. My children remain an integral part of the GrapplerTodd testing team who have not been afraid to speak their minds on when I got a design right and also when I need to go back to the drawing board. All the prototypes are first got into my home environment – and only once its approved by my Child Officers – we go to the next step.

Great Companies: What are the various Services provided by GrapplerTodd LLP

Disha Shah: GrapplerTodd today has created over 100 products that are designed to be open-ended, gender neutral toys promoting inclusiveness and cultural diversity ensuring the end result has everyone smiling.

With each and every toy we create, we hope to inspire children’s:

1. Creativity through engaging open-ended play

2. Learning through self-exploration

3. Imagination through fun activities

4. Playtime combining learning with Joy

We want to bring back simple, yet innovative and fun toys for children today.

GrapplerTodd has already Found itself in classrooms and Montessori environments’ - naturally your children’s safety is our no.1 priority.

Great Companies: What makes GrapplerTodd LLP different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Disha Shah:

All our toys are meant to add Value to a children's environment and overall growth and development. We have Montessori Materials which are as per standard guidelines and then those toys that focus on Independent Play. Independent play sparks imagination and dreamers. And we hope GrapplerTodd dreamers someday will become achievers and innovators.

Right from our primary Product to Secondary Packaging – everything is thought through from the eye of a parent. From ethically Sourced Wood, using Non Toxic Colours to asking sure our packing material is Recyclable. In short we are creating bright minds for the world of tomorrow – but also making sure the world is still a beautiful place for our children to grow up in.

Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?

Disha Shah: Like all other industrial sectors – the Toy industry is plagued with imports from China. We also are competing with substandard use of inks , paints and dyes which is a deterrent to pricing. Also our toys are not cheap and not with people with a mindset that my child will outgrow it someday and the toy will go to a landfill. Being a mom of 3 – and coming from a very large family , I have received so many hand me down toys. At GrapplerTodd we are focusing on making Heirloom Toys – something that can be passed down generations.

Another bigger challenge is that of design. Being a new entrant – from drawing board to a retail shelf we are looking at anything between 6-8 months. So we are slower in removing variants and adapting to seasons and festivals. We are also learning on the job about E-Comm Retailing – it is no longer a dream that is turned to reality – it is a dream that lead us on a roller coaster ride.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for GrapplerTodd LLP?

Disha Shah: We are very excited that our Active Architects series is selling like Hot Cakes through our social media and on our website. That is the core of our Independent Play Series. We have many pre-orders for all the variants with 2 big distributors – which gives us faith that we are working in the right direction. The next 5 years – it will be all about expanding the Series - for the child to be able to make his or her own city – it can have everything he ever imagines – from a Football Stadium to a Hospital to a Dinosaur Theme Park. The child is the maker of his universe !

On the Montessori Learning Aids front – right now we have SKU’s that cater to the toddler enviorment – like Flashcards, Dressing Frames etc. with the growing number of Montessori Elementary Schools – we are excited to add more Montessori Materials for the high levels. We slowly want to become a one stop shop to set up Montessori Environment company. We have orders from three Montessori School’s in Mumbai and we have just bagged an order from a Montessori School in Bangalore

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Disha Shah: Don’t let someone tell you that this industry is too crowded and there are many giants – how will you compete ? People will scare you everyday – Rather I keep asking myself everyday – this industry is too crowded – How is my product different from every other giant – this helps me each time I’m at the drawing board to make sure my product is unique and adding value to my consumer.

On the personal front – this is my 5th Business that I have started – the last 4 – its not that I didn’t make money - I have never made a loss in all the 4 previous businesses. Infact the last business was bought over completely by an investor. But they didn’t challenge me – or they didn’t excite me. This is my 5th Business – and sometimes people laugh – but I always tell people I’m a serial Entrepreneur. I have the conviction that my ideas are money making. I want to laugh at the person who told me 6 months ago – that my prototypes are made from paper and scraps from textile – how will they make money ? By the end of this month we are targeting our first SKU to reach 1000 in sale.. my 1000th set of Flashcards – Im going to send it to her and thank her 999 times over!



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